Republicans switch candidates for Calhoun County Commission race
by Laura Johnson
Sep 08, 2010 | 2348 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following an eleventh-hour switch, a Piedmont resident was named to represent the Republican Party in a race against Democratic incumbent Ruddy Abbott for the Calhoun County Commission District 5 seat.

Patrick Nolan, 29, was selected Monday after Tom Shelton withdrew from the race late last week amid questions about his residency.

With Calhoun County GOP chairman Gene Howard by his side, Nolan officially entered the race Tuesday morning, just four hours before the deadline to name a candidate.

“He became known to us through a number of people,” Howard said. “Over a period of a couple of days we talked with him and he reached an agreement.”

The agreement Howard was referring to was one between Nolan and his wife, Vanesa, who was in labor with the couple’s second child, a daughter, on Tuesday.

The switch followed a revelation that Shelton was ineligible for the District 5 seat because he did not meet a residency requirement.

Shelton lives on Waterford Way, which is just two miles outside of District 5. On Thursday Shelton tried to officially change his address to 1316 Pelham Road, the location of his business inside District 5, but the process was never completed, according to officials with the Calhoun County Revenue Commission office.

“It had a bedroom in the back, but it’s not what we call his (home),” Howard said of the business.

He said local party officals were notified that Shelton lived outside the district on Wednesday when a member of the Board of Registrars called to report it. The following day they met with Shelton and a member of the board to discuss the matter.

After reviewing the residency requirements to run for the office, the party’s steering committee voted to withdraw Shelton’s name from the nomination if he did not resign. Before the close of the meeting Shelton stepped down.

Following the meeting, the party committee began recruiting candidates. Monday, after talking to several Howard said the committee interviewed two candidates, including Nolan and Shelton’s son Thomas Shelton, a student at Jacksonville State University. The committee voted to nominate Nolan shortly after the interviews.

Attempts to reach Shelton were unsuccessful.

“When he entered the race he didn’t realize that the house was in District 4,” Howard said. “When he did realize he was out of the District, he tried to establish a dual residency.”

It is a week of transition for Nolan. On Tuesday he decided to run for political office for the first time and celebrated the birth of his second child. On Friday, he will turn 30. A native of Florida, Nolan first moved to Calhoun County to attend Jacksonville State University, where he met his wife, a Piedmont native.

Twice a graduate of JSU, Nolan is now pursuing a law degree from the Birmingham School of Law. He works as a risk and training manager at Supervalu in Anniston.

If elected, Nolan said he would focus on many of the same issues he feels Abbott has, namely education.

“I believe I am equally as dedicated to many of the things he’s for,” Nolan said. “I think that people, in addition to those things, are ready for a conservative candidate.”

The Nov. 2 election won’t be the first time Nolan and Abbott have crossed paths. They first met while Nolan was attending JSU, where Abbott became well-known for coaching baseball.

“He’s a nice young fellow,” Abbott said. “People will judge me on what I’ve done, and they’ll judge him on what they think he will do and that’s the way it should be.”

Contact staff writer Laura Johnson at 256-235-3544.

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